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Representatives from coastal communities across the European Union came together in Santiago de Compostela this week with a common goal – to pressure EU decision makers to ensure the future of fishing communities during the Brexit negotiations.
A declaration signed by representatives of sixty coastal communities that could be adversely affected by Brexit sets out demands for regional interests to be an integral part of future negotiations.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the President of Galicia, a key fishing region and on that relies heavily on UK waters, commented that the link between the future of the fisheries industry and the continued prosperity of these communities is inseparable. He expressed the hope that the movement started today will be joined by many more coastal communities representatives who he invited to add their signature to the declaration.
According to Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the United Kingdom and the EU share a truly common resource; shared fish stocks in shared waters.
He said that the futures of British and EU fishermen and the communities that depend on this common resource are intertwined like no other. While EU fishing fleets depend on access to what is to become UK waters for 42% of their catch, the UK industry exports 60% of its total catch to the EU’s single market.
‘Today has shown that our industry is first and foremost about people,’ said Gerard Van Balsfoort, Chairman of the European Fisheries Alliance.
‘A hard Brexit would jeopardise the future prosperity of our fishing communities and its industry and have very real, tangible consequences for thousands of livelihoods across Europe.’
‘The Brexit agreement needs to take care of our coastal communities. The long-term economic future means safeguarding current reciprocal access arrangements to waters and markets and maintaining current distribution of fishing opportunities.’
His comments were echoed by Erik Flyvholm, Mayor of Lemvig, a region of western Denmark also set to be affected as the UK leaves the EU.
‘Danish fishing communities need a Brexit agreement which safeguards mutual fishing rights acquired throughout history, which for centuries have allowed Danish and European fishermen to access what will become British waters,’ he said. ‘Such an agreement needs to be part of a wider political agreement including vital dimensions such as trade and environmental legislation.’